April 12, 2013
HOUSTON - The Rice baseball team had the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, but visiting UCF turned a double-play with the bases-loaded to end the threat and claim a 5-1 win over the Owls in the opener of a three-game Conference USA weekend series Friday night at Reckling Park in Houston.
With eight hits and by drawing a season-high eight walks Rice certainly had offensive opportunities. UCF turned three double plays, including the game-ender in the ninth, and allowed just one run midway through the contest.
UCF opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the second. An RBI single by Brett Gordon scored Parker Webster, and Jeramy Matos came home as the Owls turned a double-play with the bases-loaded.
Rice cut the margin to 2-1 in the fourth. Skyler Ewing walked and scored on a two-out base-loaded walk, but the Blue & Gray could not break through at the plate. The Owls had stranded a total of nine runners after four innings and went on to have men on base in every frame.
The Knights stretched the lead with two more runs in the fifth, and another in the sixth, to make the score 5-1. Rice could not take of advantage of Michael Ratterree's leadoff double to left-center in the seventh, nor a leadoff walk to start the eighth. Freshman Leon Byrd started the ninth with a single. A walk to Christian Stringer and one-out single by Michael Aquino loaded the bases. UCF turned a comeback-shot to the pitcher into a 1-2-3 double-play to end the game, 5-1.
Rice fell to 24-12 on the season and 6-4 in C-USA league play. UCF improved to 19-16 overall and 5-5 in conference.
Six Owls finished with a total of eight hits and all nine starters were able to reach base during the game. Five members of the Rice bullpen, Blake Fox, John Simms, Evan Rutter, John Williamson and Tyler Spurlin all saw action on the mound in relief of starter Austin Kubitza (4-2). Left-hander Chris Matulis picked-up his fourth win of the season for UCF after pitching 8.0 innings.
The teams play the second game of the series Saturday at Reckling Park. Game time is set for 2 pm.